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Online Degrees: Are They Worth the Money? 

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

For many, getting a degree at a traditional 4-year college or 2-year community college is not an option. You may have kids to take care of so 9am classes aren't realistic. You may be holding down a job and need the flexibility of an online degree program. How do you decide if an online degree program is worth the money?

Here are a few steps that may help you determine if getting an online degree is a good way to spend your hard-earned dollars (or a good reason to take on some student loan debt).

1. Will the online degree give you access to new career opportunities?

Do you need a specific skill set to advance in your current job? Do you need training to transition to a new career path? Before you decide you want a degree for a degree's sake, you need to understand what doors an online degree will open.

A good way to do this is contact companies that are in your desired field and talk with someone involved in hiring. Ask them how they view candidates who have received a degree from an online program and which programs and schools they consider the strongest. Find out whether getting more formal training through an online degree program will improve your chances of breaking into the field or advancing in your job.

You may also want to talk with graduates who have received online degrees from the schools you are considering. Learn whether the program was a valuable experience for them and if it helped improve their marketability to potential employers.

2. Is the online degree program a reputable one?

If you've done some of the work answering question #1, you have probably already started the process of evaluating a specific online degree program.

Another good way to determine if an online degree program is legitimate and reputable is to research their accreditation status. The U.S. Department of Education provides a way for you to search for accredited postsecondary institutions. This is probably a good starting place. For specific programs, there may be other sources. For example, the AACSB and ACBSP provide accreditation for business programs.

3. Do they participate in federal financial aid programs?

Paying for your online degree program is likely going to be a concern. As we always say, you should do your best to find scholarships and grants first since they are essentially "free money" for college. After that, federal financial aid programs are typically your best, most affordable options. You should check whether you'll be able to get Stafford loans to pay for an online degree program. These are essentially schools that participate in the federal government's Title IV program.

We hope these tips help you determine whether an online degree program is worth the investment of time, effort, and money. Start your search for online degree programs now!

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Comments

Blogger james   April 5, 2010 at 10:58 AM

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Anonymous Lindsay   March 15, 2011 at 11:10 AM

I received my degree from an online college. Most employers recognize that completing an online degree requires a lot more motivation and tech savvy than going to a campus based school.

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